We have the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions on which volumes of material have been written. Yet, a common theme running through the steps and traditions is this idea of principles. But what are these principles and from where do they come?
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
Tradition 12: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
A closer look at the steps reveals a guiding principle underpinning each one. Those principles are as follows:
The 12 Principles
Once the steps become ingrained into our daily lives and practices, we no longer have to think about working a particular step. Rather, the underlying principle becomes our guiding action, or our moral compass.
Having spent 27 years in the military, I became very fond of acronyms. I found them an easy way to remember things. They became a mnemonic device when I wanted to recall information quickly. Thus, I made an acronym for the 12 principles which serves as a helpful reminder of the values which I now want to guide my life. I call the acronym Leadership, but I spell it: LDRSHIP. Here’s what the letters stand for:
L: Loyalty – the kind of loyalty I’m reminded of in Step One where it tells me it is a “We” program – not an “I” program.
D: Discipline – the kind of discipline that’s mentioned at the end of chapter six in the book Alcoholics Anonymous on page 88 where it tells me, “We alcoholics are undisciplined. So, we let God discipline us.” The kind of discipline I need to work Step ten.
R: Responsibility – the kind of responsibility that’s talked about in our Responsibility Statement which states, “I am responsible when anyone, anywhere…” The kind of responsibility that’s required to clean-up the wreckage from my past as I do in my ninth step.
S: Service – the kind of service that I’m urged to do in our 12th step.
H: Honesty – the kind of honesty that is required of me when I’m working steps four and five.
I: Integrity – the kind of integrity that is required of me when I’m working steps six, seven and eight.
P: Prayer – the kind of prayer that is needed when I’m working steps two, three and eleven.
When I incorporate LDRSHIP into my life, I’m naturally working the principles/steps of the program.